Bankruptcy Judge: No halt to water shutoffs

Bankruptcy Judge: No halt to water shutoffs

Judge Steven Rhodes this morning denied a request to halt the water shutoffs to thousands of customers with past due bills.

“The harm to the city would be significant,” he said.

Following the two-day evidentiary hearing last week, Rhodes read his decision from the bench before the bankruptcy trial proceedings resumed. He said he would enter a written order.

Rhodes called the city’s “10-Point Plan” that helps customers “a bold, commendable and necessarily aggressive plan” that appears to have “been generally successful.” But he also pointed out that it’s “less clear” that the plan will be of any assistance to those too poor to pay water bills.

“This program has led to a significant number of service restorations,” Rhodes said. “There remain, however, thousands of customers whose service was terminated and not restored.”

Rhodes agreed with the plaintiffs – a group of water customers, attorneys and welfare rights groups – that irreparable harm occurred when water service is halted. But he also said “significant harm” could occur to the city if the six-month stay was granted. “The last thing it needs is this hit to its revenue,” Rhodes said.

Following the judge’s ruling, the Detroit Water Brigade issued a statement, condemned Rhodes’s decision and said members would “initiate a sustained and escalating campaign of nonviolent direct action with a simple demand: that water be restored to all the people of the City of Detroit.”